Welcome to the International Milton Symposium Rare Book Exhibit!
Milton in Print
Global Early Modern Manuscript Culture
Paradise Lost in Translation
Plenary Speakers’ Selections
Many thanks to Liz Ridolfo for her expertise and assistance during the preparation of this exhibit.
William Shakespeare, Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, fisher .S52 A1 1632 f
Milton first appeared in print in 1632 when his “Epitaph on the admirable Dramaticke Poet, W. Shakespeare” was included among the prefatory poems in the Second Folio of Shakespeare’s plays. Like the other poem added to the Second Folio (“Vpon the Effigies…”), Milton’s was unsigned. As Barbara Lewalski notes: “The anonymity may testify to Milton’s continuing sense of unreadiness, to an unease shared with many English gentlemen about writing for the print marketplace, or to a desire to make his formal public debut with some more impressive poem or volume of poetry.” Milton would later claim authorship of the poem when it was included in the 1645 collection Poems of Mr. John Milton.
John Milton, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 05378
An Answer to a Book, Intituled, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 05379
John Milton, Tetrachordon: Expositions upon the Foure Chief Places in Scripture, which Treat of Mariage, or Nullities in Mariage
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-11 02443
During the turbulent early years of the English Civil War, Milton produced four tracts on the subject of marriage and divorce, beginning with The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, first printed in July/August 1643 with a second edition in 1644. (The edition presented here is the pirated 1645 edition.) Milton’s radical views about the legitimate grounds for divorce received severe backlash from some contemporaries. One early critic was the anonymous author of An Answer to a Book Entitled The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1644); Milton responded swiftly to this “trivial author” with his Colasterion: A Reply to a Nameless Answer against The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, published in March 1645. At the same time, Milton published the Tetrachordon, which examined the four passages in scripture that discuss marriage, arguing that these “four strings” were in harmony. The fact that three of Milton’s four divorce tracts were printed without having first received a license defied the Long Parliament’s 1643 Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing. Milton would tackle the question of prepublication censorship directly in Areopagitica (1644).
[Eikon basilike]. The Pourtraicture of His Sacred Maiestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings
London, “1648” (i.e. 1649)
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-11 08595
John Milton, [Eikonoklastes] in Answer to a Book Intitl’d [Eikon Basilike], The Portrature of His Sacred Majesty in His Solitudes and Sufferings
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 05381
John Milton, [Eikonoklastes], ou, Réponse au livre intitulé [Eikon basilike], ou, Le pourtrait de Sa sacrée Majesté durant sa solitude & ses souffrances, trans. John Drury
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-11 09713
In the immediate aftermath of Charles’s execution, the circulation of Eikon Basilike, depicting the late king as a royal martyr illegally murdered, threatened to stoke royalist resistance against the nascent republican government. Indeed, Eikon Basilike was massively popular: in 1649 alone, 35 editions were printed in England and 25 on the Continent. Fearing the danger that this book posed, the council of state asked Milton to write the official rebuttal, which appeared in October 1649 under the title Eikonoklastes, methodically breaking the picture (eikon) that the “King’s Book” had painted. In one passage, Milton argues that Charles’s ostentatious piety in Eikon Basilike could best be compared to the hypocritical performances of Richard III as imagined “one whom we well know was the closet companion of these his solitudes, William Shakespeare.” (Milton may not have known that Charles owned a copy of the Second Folio, which included Milton’s own “Epitaph.”) As a justification for the execution, Milton’s book was not just intended to reach an English readership. On January 14, 1650 the council of state arranged for copies of some publications to be distributed in Europe to promote the new Republican government’s claims of legitimacy abroad, including “Mr Miltons bookes as they shall judge necessary to be spread in those parts.” In May 1651, the council ordered John Dury to prepare a French translation of Milton’s Eikonoklastes, which was published around 20 November 1652 for distribution in France.
John Milton, Joannis Miltoni Angli Defensio pro populo Anglicano contra Claudii anonimi, aliàs Salmasii, Defensionem regiam
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-11 02850
Claude Saumaise, Defensio regia, pro Carolo I
John Milton, Ioannis Miltoni Angli Pro populo Anglicano defensio contra Claudii anonymi, aliàs Salmasii, Defensionem regiam
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 00697
Claude Saumaise, Defensio regia, pro Carolo I
John Milton, Joannis Miltoni Angli Defensio pro populo Anglicano contra Claudii anonimi, aliàs Salmasii, Defensionem regiam
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 02841
Claude Saumaise, Claudii Salmasii Defensio regia, pro Carolo I, rege Angliae… et Joannis Miltoni Defensio pro populo Anglicano, contrà Claudii anonymi, aliàs Salmasii, Defensionem regiam
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 01847
In 1649, the French scholar Claude Saumaise (Salmasius) (1588–1653) wrote his Defensio regia pro Carolo I, dedicated to Charles II, vehemently condemning the King’s execution and arguing that the new English republic was illegitimate. In January 1650, the council of state ordered Milton to write a rebuttal, published in 1651 as the Defensio pro populo Anglicano (Defense of the English People). Today known as the First Defense, Milton’s book was printed in multiple formats and circulated widely. The examples from the Fisher collections exhibited here include one standalone quarto edition; two duodecimo volumes in which both Salmasius’ and Milton’s tracts are bound together; and an issue of Salmasius, dated 1650, with a newly printed title-page anticipating binding with Milton’s. Together they exemplify how closely the questions of political theory at the heart of the English Revolution were being followed by English and Continental readers. Salmasius’s rebuttal would eventually be published upon the Restoration, seven years after his death, as Ad Johannem Miltonum responsio, opus posthumum (1660).
Sir Roger L’Estrange, No Blinde Guides in Answer to a Seditious Pamphlet of J. Milton’s, Intituled Brief Notes upon a Late Sermon Titl’d, The Fear of God and the King
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, pam 01168
While Milton had lost his sight entirely by 1652, he was able with the assistance of readers and amanuenses to fulfill his duties as Secretary for Foreign Tongues and continued to produce both poetic and political writing. On the eve of the Restoration, Milton wrote a pamphlet rebutting a Royalist sermon delivered by Matthew Griffith, former chaplain to Charles I. His Brief Notes upon a Late Sermon, Titl’d, The Fear of God and the King was almost immediately followed by reponse written by Roger L’Estrange (1616–1704), printed on 20 April 1660, that attacked Milton’s positions not only in the Brief Notes but also in his divorce tracts, Defensio, and Eikonoklastes. In its title and epigraph (“If the Blinde lead the Blinde, Both shall fall into the Ditch”), the tract pointedly implied that Milton’s loss of sight was symbolic of his incompetence as a moral guide.
John Milton, Paradise Lost. A Poem in Ten Books
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 00299
John Milton, Paradise Lost. A Poem in Twelve Books
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, E-10 00331 (Copy 1)
The first edition of the ten-book Paradise Lost, printed in quarto by Samuel Simmons, survives in several issues dating from 1667 to 1669, with title-pages naming no fewer than six booksellers. The Fisher’s copy represents the fifth state of the title-page (Wing M2142), dated 1669, to be sold at the shop of Thomas Helder. The 1669 issues include the material that had been added to the book by Simmons since the 1667 publication, including the arguments to each book, Milton’s note on “The Verse,” and an errata list. While the poem was reprinted in 1674–75 and 1678 in octavo format, the fourth edition of Paradise Lost, published in 1688 by Jacob Tonson and Richard Bentley, was a lavish folio volume printed on high-quality paper and “Adorn’d with Sculptures,” that is, twelve illustrations designed by Sir John Baptist Medina (1659–1710) and engraved by Michael Burgese and Bernard Lens. As Emma Depledge notes, among the most remarkable features of the 1688 edition is the list of “Nobility and Gentry That Encourag’d, by Subscription, The Printing [of] this Edition”: not only was this a milestone in the history of English printing, but the wide political affiliations of the subscribers listed also implied a shift in Milton’s reputation from radical regicide to literary classic. (Even Roger L’Estrange, author of No Blinde Guides, was a subscriber.)
John Milton, Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To Which is Added Samson Agonistes
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 00302
Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes were licensed for publication on 2 July 1670, appearing together in an octavo edition in 1671. As Joseph Wittreich observes, the book was exceptional among Milton’s publications in foregrounding that it had been “Licensed” by the censors on a page (sig. A1v) facing the title-page, perhaps a defensive move given the reputations of both Milton and the publisher John Starkey as radicals. (The Fisher’s copy of the first edition lacks this facing-page license; however, in its place, a flyleaf is annotated with a record that the volume was acquired by one William Fare in April 1781.) At the end of the book, an “Omissa” page supplies 11 lines to Samson Agonistes: while this may be the result of a printer’s oversight, it may also represent an authorial addition composed after printing had begun, perhaps, as Laura Lunger Knoppers has suggested, one deliberately added after the manuscript had already been licensed to sidestep prepublication censorship.
John Milton, The Poetical Works of Mr. John Milton
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, F-10 00719
John Milton, The Works of Mr. John Milton
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, E-10 00333 Copy 2
Jacob Tonson (1655–1736), the publisher of the 1688 illustrated edition of Paradise Lost, became one of the most consequential figures in the history of Milton’s reception. In 1695, having acquired the rights to a number of Milton’s other works, Tonson published a folio edition of Milton’s collected poetry, including the substantial supplementary paratexts that Tonson had commissioned to accompany Paradise Lost—a “Table of the most remarkable Parts” of the poem and an extensive 321-page critical commentary by “P.H.”—further canonizing Milton as an English author. (The author of the commentary has been recently identified by David A. Harper as Peter Hume [1640–1707].) Two years later, perhaps in response to the success of Tonson’s folio, The Works of John Milton (1697) was published by an unknown stationer: the volume provided a collected folio edition of his political and historical works, including the divorce treatises, Of Reformation, The Reason of Church Government, Areopagitica, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and Eikonoklastes.
John Milton, Joannis Miltonii Angli, Epistolarum familiarium liber unus: quibus accesserunt ejusdem, jam olim in Collegio Adolescentis, prolusiones quaedam oratoriae
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 00297
John Toland, The Life of John Milton
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-11 02838
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, a number of publications reflect a growing interest among readers in Milton’s life. In 1674, when the bookseller Brabazon Aylmer was unable to receive permission to produce an edition of Milton’s diplomatic correspondence, he instead decided to print 31 of his private letters written between 1625 and 1656. To fill out the volume, Aylmer also included seven college orations, the Prolusions, that Milton had delivered as a student at Cambridge University. As Barbara Lewalski comments, “evidently Milton’s reputation was now such that Aylmer could expect his private letters and youthful orations to be ‘salable.’” The life of Milton by the political writer John Toland (1670–1722) first appeared in A Complete Collection of the Historical, Political and Miscellaneous Works of John Milton (1698), to which Toland had contributed some Milton manuscripts that had not yet appeared in print. Unlike the earlier biographical reminiscences by Edward Phillips and Cyriack Skinner, Toland’s attempt to historicize Milton’s writing in their historical context has led Thomas N. Corns to call him “a founding father of Milton studies.”
John Milton, The Poetical Works of John Milton. With a Life of the Author, 3 vols.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, G-10 00281
John Milton, Paradise Lost: A Poem in Twelve Books
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, smb 00570
By the beginning of the nineteenth century, with Milton’s reputation as a classic English author secured, his works could be read in a wide variety of formats. The extravagant three-volume edition of Milton’s poems printed by William Bulmer at the Shakspeare Printing Office has been called “one of the major achievements of English typography.” It included a biography of Milton by William Hayley, illustrated by three portraits of Milton at different ages and a picture of Milton with his two daughters, over two dozen further engravings, designed by Richard Westall (1765–1836), illustrating the poems. By contrast, the minuscule pocket-sized Paradise Lost printed in Philadelphia a decade later seems almost a novelty, its pages measuring a mere 4 by 2.5 inches.
John Milton, Areopagitica: A Speech of Mr. John Milton, for the Liberty of Unlicens’d Printing, to the Parliament of England. First Published in the Year 1644. With a Preface, by Another Hand
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-13 03331
Caleb Stower, The Printer’s Price-Book: Containing the Master Printer’s Charges to the Trade for Printing Works of Various Descriptions, Sizes, Types, and Pages
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, duff 02982
“Freestanding republications of Milton’s Areopagitica are a good way to pinpoint tense junctures in the negotiation of press freedom,” as Thomas Keymer has argued. Andrew Millar’s reprinting of Areopagitica, the title-page of which closely follows the mise-en-page of the original 1644 edition, appeared shortly after the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 led to increased anxieties about press legislation. As James Thomson wrote in the new preface, “Now without the absolute unbounded Freedom of writing and publishing, there is no Liberty; no Shadow of it: It is an empty Sound.” A very different reprinting of Areopagitica occurs in The Printer’s Price-Book (1814), in which the text of Milton’s tract is used to model the layout of different typefaces (pp. 33–71). Although less politically urgent than Millar’s 1738 edition, The Printer’s Price-Book testifies to the continued reverence for Milton’s tract among professional printers into the nineteenth century.
England, c. 1650
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, X-10 00016
Hornbooks were among the first pedagogical tools children encountered when learning the basics of reading and writing. This example includes the forms of majuscule and miniscule letters in Roman script, a list of the vowels and a syllabary along with the text of the Lord’s Prayer. Hornbooks (so called because the paper was sometimes protected by a thin layer of horn) were usually made of wood, leather or bone; however, this ornate mid seventeenth-century example is mounted on a silver filigree base with a stylized foliage design.
Robert Dodsley, Poems, histories, meditations, prayers on Biblical subjects
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 04350
This richly illustrated early eighteenth-century manuscript was apparently designed to introduce children to the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, the Tower of Babel, and more with rhyming couplets, watercolour paintings, and interactive moveable flaps. For example, the section “Vpon the creation and Fall of Adam” begins with an illustration of Adam and Eve in the garden and the verses: “Adam in Eden placed was but near / A serpent dwelt & long he stay’d not there / For with his sly Insinuations he / Poor Eve deceiv’d lift up ye leaf and see.” The illustration revealed beneath the flap shows Eve taking the apple from an anthropomorphized serpent and, below, Adam and Eve driven out of Eden. The manuscript is likely the work of Robert Dodsley (1681–1750), a schoolmaster at the Free School of Mansfield and the father of the publisher and writer Robert Dodsley (1703–1764), who would later publish an adaptation of Milton’s Comus and an oratorio version of Paradise Lost.
Ethiopia, early 18th century
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 08019
Written in Ge‘ez, the classical Ethiopian Semitic language used for liturgical texts, the psalter on display here includes 151 psalms, 15 canticles, the Song of Solomon, and hymns in praise of the Virgin Mary. One opening features full-page colour illustrations of St. George (the patron saint of Ethiopia) slaying the dragon on the verso side and the penitent woman washing Christ’s feet on the recto. The book is bound in wooden boards, which, after sustaining damage, were repaired by being stitched together.
The Pomander of Prayer: Certane Godlie Prayeris to be Useit of All Christin Men and Wemen
Scotland, c. 1600
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 01122
This manuscript prayer book borrows its title, along with some of its contents, from Thomas Becon’s The Pomander of Prayer, first printed in 1558. (A “pomander” is a ball containing aromatic spices used as protection against sickness and spells.) Preserved in its original calf binding, this prayer book is written in Lowland Scots dialect with red and black ink, and features some whimsical inhabited initials, such as the kissing faces on fol. 15r.
Galileo Galilei, Letter to Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany
Italy, 17th century
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 07211
Galileo (1564–1642) wrote his letter to Christina of Lorraine (1565–1637) in 1615 in response to the increasingly dangerous controversy surrounding his astronomical beliefs. A year before the Inquisitorial commission would formally condemn heliocentrism as a contradiction of Scripture, Galileo’s long essay attempted to reconcile this apparent conflict by drawing on passages from the Bible and Church Fathers. While addressed directly to Christina, the letter was written with a broader audience in mind and it circulated widely in manuscript copies such as this one. Of course, Galileo’s attempts to defend himself would ultimately prove unsuccessful and by the time Milton travelled to Italy and met the “Tuscan artist” himself in 1638, Galileo had become “a prisoner to the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought,” as Milton recalled in Areopagitica. You can explore the contents of this manuscript in the Fisher’s digitization here.
Thomas Hobbes, De motibus solis, aetheris & telluris: praecipuè autem numeri dierum in hemisphaerio borio, quám in australi majoris, causa conjecturalis
England, c. 1640s–50s?
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 03337
This manuscript is one of only two extant witnesses to the poem “De motibus solis, aetheris & telluris” (“On the Motion of the Sun, the Aether, and the Earth”) by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), author of the Leviathan. Likely composed around 1652–53 as Hobbes was at work on the Latin edition of De corpore, the poem is a work of versified natural philosophy, arguing that the Sun has two kinds of motion, accounting for the Earth’s diurnal rotation and annual revolution. The Fisher manuscript is a scribal copy, although two annotated words on p. 12 (“altera causa”) appear to be in Hobbes’s own hand.
Thomas Hobbes, An Historicall Narration Concerning Haeresie and the Punishment Thereof
England, c. 1668–1680
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 05008
Hobbes wrote this extended historical discussion of heresy law at a time when he was anxious about his reputation among the English clergy: according to Aubrey, the rumour was that the bishops planned to have Hobbes “burn’t for a Heretique.” Although An Historical Narration Concerning Heresie was completed by June 1668, it was denied a publication license and was only printed in 1680, a year after Hobbes’s death. In the meantime, the work circulated in manuscript; the Fisher’s represents one of three manuscript copies extant today.
Naw’i, Yahya ibn Pur ‘Ali, Netayic ül-fünun (İlimlerin özü)
Turkey, 17th century
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 04113
Written by Naw’i, Yahya ibn Pur ‘Ali (1533–1598), a 16th-century scholar, poet, and mystic, The Pinnacles of the Sciences (an English translation of the original Turkish title) is an introduction to twelve fields of knowledge—history, natural philosophy, theology, law, jurisprudence, exegesis, mysticism, the interpretation of dreams, medicine, agriculture, astrology, and divination—aimed at the lay reader. Widely copied in manuscript, the volume on display here is written in Arabic calligraphy with several diagrams in red and black ink and preserved in a contemporary red-leather binding.
Samuel Morland, Letter to Dr. John Pell concerning an inscription for the tombstone of Carola Morland
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS gen 05.052
In this letter to the mathematician Dr. John Pell (1611–1685), the natural philosopher and diplomat Samuel Morland (1625–1695) provides the inscription that will appear on the funerary monument of his wife Carola (1651–1674) and asks that Pell take a coach to ensure that the workman completes the engraving correctly. Carola Morland’s monument can be seen today in the south aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey. Samuel Morland was a prolific inventor: according to his biographer Alan Marshall, Morland’s inventions ranged “from mechanical water-pumps for domestic and industrial use, to a mechanical glister machine for giving himself enemas while in bed, to the speaking trumpet, and a proto-steam engine.”
Francisco Gómez Rendón, Libro manual de consumido y 15no de la R[ea]l Caxa de Zacatecas…
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS gen 56.035
In Paradise Lost, Milton alludes to the colonial extraction of resources in the Spanish Americas, contrasting “yet unspoiled / Guiana” with the widespread plunder of “Rich Mexico the seat of Motezume” (11.407, 409–10). Beginning in the sixteenth century, the Mexican city of Zacatecas was a hub for the colonial silver mining, an industry dependent on the enslaved labour of Indigenous and Afro-diasporic people. The scale of this operation is evident in this account book, kept by the treasurer Captain Francisco Gómez Rendón, recording all the expenditures and receipts from regional mines coming into the Royal Treasury at Zacatecas for the year 1650.
England, c. 1680s
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 03340
This late seventeenth-century manuscript recipe collection, like many others of the genre, was compiled by many users over many years and provides both culinary and medical guidance. Recipes here include a variety of cakes, fresh cheese, gooseberry vinegar, and mead, as well as medicines for headaches, sore throats, and venomous bites. Given his medical history, Milton may have been acquainted with treatments like those that appear in this manuscript “for the gout or paine in any Limbs,” “for the pearll in the eye” (i.e. cataract) and “for a pin and web in the eye” (cloudy vision) (p. 39). The manuscript also bears witness to the influx of new ingredients to England from the colonial Americas, such as the Brazil wood (“brasel”) and cochineal (“scachaneal”) used “To coler Scarlit feaithers” (p. 160). In spring 2023, this manuscript was the focus of a transcribe-a-thon event at the University of Toronto in collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library: you can explore the digitized images of the manuscript as well as the evolving transcription as part of the Folger’s Early Modern Recipe Books project here.
Handbook of treatment, especially of skin diseases
Sri Lanka, c. 1720?
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 08009
This medical text, written in Sinhalese, takes the form of a traditional ola (palm leaf) manuscript. Such books were produced using leaves, or strips of leaves, from the Talipot or Palmyra palm, inscribed with incisions using an iron stylus, and bound together with a cord passing through a hole in the leaves. While this particular manuscript, with its modern wooden lacquered boards and a silver medallion, was donated by the ophthalmologist and bibliophile Casey Albert Wood, the Fisher holds an extensive collection of palm leaf manuscripts, notably 62 boxes of Sanskrit manuscripts in Telugu and Bengali donated by T. Venkatacharya in 1989 and 1991.
William Aldersey, A Collation of the Mayors, Whoe Have Governed This Cittye of Chester, and the Tyme When The[y] Governed
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 05032
This manuscript compendium of historical information about the city of Chester is based on work originally compiled by William Aldersey (1543–1616), who served as mayor of Chester in 1594–95 and 1613–14. Beginning with “The antiquitey of this Cittie,” the book goes on to provide a comprehensive chronological list of Chester’s mayors along with noteworthy events that happened in each year. Of particular interest, Aldersey’s annals register the precarious status of regional dramatic performance in the decades after the Reformation: the entry for 1574 states, “The playes likewise played this yeare at Midsomer and then but some of them, leavinge others vnplayed, which was thought might not be Iustified for the superstition in them, although the Maior was inioyned not to procede therewith at all by the Archbishopp of Yorke.” The Fisher copy was at first transcribed by one William Jure in 1618 into a prebound book of blank pages; other hands continue the succession of mayors to 1639.
António de Gouvea, Asia extrema, entra nella a fé promulgas a ley de Deus pelos padres da Companhia de Jesus
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, MSS 09251
António de Gouvea (c.1590– 1677), a Portuguese Jesuit missionary in the province of Fujian, arrived in China in 1635, and completed his Ásia Extrema (Farthest Asia) in 1644. An early work of Western sinology, the book describes the scale and antiquity of China, and offers “Selected Flowers,” moral exempla derived from Chinese history. The Fisher manuscript was probably produced in China, since the majority of the book is composed on Chinese rice paper, currently disbound given the paper’s fragility. You can explore the contents of this manuscript in the Fisher’s digitization here.
John Milton, Paradise Lost: A Poem, 2 vols.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-13 03285
This copy of a two-volume edition of Paradise Lost printed in Paris shortly before the French Revolution is heavily annotated with an English reader’s marginalia, including biblical citations and explanatory glosses written both horizontally and vertically in the margins, as well as a long biographical note on Milton on a flyleaf of Volume I. The French connection is emphasized by a piece of printed ephemera pinned into Volume II titled “A French account of Adam’s fall.” It begins: “Adam, he vake up—he see une belle demoiselle aslip in ze garden. Voila de la chance!”
William Wells Brown, The American Fugitive in Europe: Sketches of Places and People Abroad
University of Toronto Library at Downsview, DA625 .B77 1855
The American abolitionist, author, and historian William Wells Brown (1814–1884) wrote his travelogue The American Fugitive in Europe (1855) after he had escaped from slavery and was forced into exile following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. While Wells Brown cites Milton repeatedly throughout the book, Reginald A. Wilburn argues that “the most profound Miltonic moment in his travel narrative” occurs when Wells Brown visits Ludlow Castle, where “the exquisite effusion of the youthful genius of Milton – The Masque of Comus – was composed and performed” (p. 282). Inspired by the site, Wells Brown copied fourteen lines from Milton’s masque out of a guestbook in the Castle’s gatehouse and reproduced them at this moment in The American Fugitive.
John Milton, Milton’s Paradise Lost: Books I & II, ed. John Seath
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, copp 00927
E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), The White Wampum
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, copp 00371
These books showcase two Canadian women engaging with Milton around the turn of the century. Exemplifying how Milton was encountered in the Canadian classroom, this copy of the school edition of Paradise Lost printed in Toronto was inscribed by one Gertrude Hardy in 1895; the passages marked “commit” (as on p. 2) perhaps indicate lines that Hardy was required to commit to memory. In the same year, the author and performer E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (1861–1913) published her seminal poetry collection The White Wampum. Born on the Six Nations Reserve near the Grand River at Chiefswood to a Kanyen'kehà:ka (Mohawk) father and British mother, Johnson began publishing and performing her poetry in 1884. Her poem “Penseroso” (p. 72), named after Milton’s “Il Penseroso,” was first published in Toronto’s Lake Magazine in August 1892 before its inclusion in The White Wampum. While this juxtaposition of books might remind us of the role of English literary texts in the ongoing legacy of residential schools and cultural genocide in Canada, Johnson’s searing reimagining of “Il Penseroso” showcases her ability to refashion the Miltonic precedent for her own poetic vision. You can explore the contents of The White Wampum in the digitization of the Fisher’s copy here.
John Milton, The Complete Poetical Works of John Milton, ed. Harris Francis Fletcher
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, mcluhan 03838
The influential philosopher and media theorist Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980) remembered first encountering Milton as a child when his mother Elsie would recite poetry while doing housework. He became intimately familiar with Paradise Lost, citing the poem in The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) and Understanding Media (1964), the book in which he coined the famous phrase “the medium is the message.” (He reportedly boasted an ability to speed-read the entire poem in a mere five minutes.) His personal copy of The Complete Poetical Works of John Milton—one of over 6000 annotated volumes in the Fisher’s McLuhan Library Collection—displays McLuhan’s characteristic habits as an annotator, such as his cross-referencing marginalia and the index of topics that McLuhan wrote on the book’s back cover.
Famously, Milton’s earliest attempt at what would become Paradise Lost was an uncompleted drama titled “Adam Unparadiz’d.” It was John Dryden (1631–1700), however, who undertook the first dramatic adaptation of the poem as an operatic libretto in rhymed verse. Apparently prepared with Milton’s permission, The State of Innocence was finished in 1674 and, although any intended performance never materialized, the text was printed in 1677 and included in Dryden’s collected dramatic works. A more successful musical adaptation of Milton’s poetry was realized by George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) in his oratorio based on Milton’s Samson Agonistes with a libretto by Newburgh Hamilton. Handel began composition immediately after completing the Messiah in 1741, and the work received its premiere at the Covent Garden Theatre in London on 18 February 1743 and has remained popular. Perhaps surprisingly, Milton’s Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle (Comus) also enjoyed a robust history of performance in the eighteenth century. John Dalton adapted the work in 1734 and it was performed at Drury Lane in 1738 with music by Arne, then at Covent Garden in 1744, and again as a public spectacle at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, where a “Temple of Comus” was constructed. It was the most popular masque of the eighteenth century, going through at least 33 editions before 1800. (The 1777 edition here provides an illustration of Ann Catley (1745–1789), who in 1773 played the role of Euphrosyne, a part added by Dalton.) While Dryden’s operatic adaptation of Paradise Lost was never staged, subsequent efforts have met with more success. A French theatrical adaptation by Adolphe d’Ennery (1811–1899) and Ferdinand Dugué (1816–1913) was staged at Paris’s Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique on 24 March 1856. More recently, Canadian playwright Erin Shields’s feminist adaptation of Paradise Lost premiered at the Stratford Festival’s Studio Theatre in 2018, becoming a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards for Playwriting; the first edition, printed by Playwrights Canada Press, includes an introduction by Paul Stevens.
John Dryden, The State of Innocence, and Fall of Man; An Opera, in The Works of Mr. John Dryden, Volume II
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, D-10 02918
George Frideric Handel, Sampson; An Oratorio. Alter’d and adapted to the stage from the Sampson Agonistes of John Milton.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Lib Pam 01407
John Dalton, rev., Comus: A Masque, as Performed at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Lib Pam 00044
Adolphe d’Ennery and Ferdinand Dugué, Le paradis perdu: drame en cinq actes et douze tableaux
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Pam F 00776
Erin Shields, Paradise Lost
Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2018
Robarts Library, PS8637 .H4974 P37 2018
As Angelica Duran and Islam Issa have observed, the global scope of Milton’s works foreshadows their global dissemination: from the seventeenth century to the present, over 300 translations have been published representing at least 57 languages, from Arabic and Armenian to Urdu and Welsh. No work is more emblematic of Milton’s global reception than Paradise Lost, as the books on display here showcase. Shortly after its first publication in 1667, Paradise Lost began to be translated into Latin and German. William Hog’s Paraphrasis poetica in tria (1690) was the first book to include Latin translations of all three of Milton’s later poems: Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. Such Latin versions allowed for greater circulation of Milton’s work among Continental readers and translations into other European languages appeared throughout the eighteenth century. Paolo Antonio Rolli (1687–1765), Italian master to the English royal household, was the first to complete a translation of Paradise Lost into Italian: while the first edition was printed in London in 1729, the extravagant 1742 edition, printed in Paris, included elaborate ornamentation and illustrations, as well as selections from Addison’s commentary on the poem. French translations of Paradise Lost had begun to appear in the 1720s, and Madame Anne-Marie du Boccage (1710–1802) chose to undertake an “imitation” of Milton as her debut publication in 1748. The German verse translation by poet Friedrich Wilhelm Zachariä (1726–1777) was completed in 1763, published with the translator’s foreword on the metre of the poem and new engravings of Hayman’s illustrations. The first Portuguese translation, by José Amaro da Silva, was printed in Lisbon in 1789; the 1884 translation on display here, incorporating the famous illustrations by Gustave Doré, is the work of Antonio José de Lima Leitão (1787–1856) with commentary by Xavier da Cunha (1840–1920). The Hebrew translation of Paradise Lost by Isaac Edward (Eliezer) Salkinson (1820?–1883), printed in Vienna in 1871, has been described as the first major work of English literature to appear in Hebrew: Salkinson’s title departs from Milton’s, using instead the biblical verse Genesis 3:24 (“So He drove out the man”). The Russian edition included here was the work of A. Shul’govskaia, a member of the Zhenskaia Izdatel’skaia Artel’, a pre-Revolutionary cooperative of women pursuing employment in book publishing. Her prose translation of Milton’s poem was first published in 1878 and, like the 1896 edition on display here, was a massively ambitious feat of book production, taking the publisher Adolf Marks two years to prepare. Beyond the Fisher, the University of Toronto libraries hold many more translations of Paradise Lost, such as the two-volume Japanese translation by Masao Hirai (1911–2005).
William Hog, trans., Paraphrasis poetica in tria Johannis Miltoni ... : poemata, viz. Paradisum amissum, Paradisum recuperatum, et Samsonem agonisten
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-10 00703
Paolo Antonio Rolli, trans., Il Paradiso perduto: poema inglese
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, E-10 05363
Marie-Anne du Boccage, Le paradis terrestre: poëme imité de Milton
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-12 05399
Friedrich Wilhelm Zachariä, trans., Das verlohrne Paradies
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-13 05841
Antonio José de Lima Leitão, trans., O Paraíso Perdido: Poema Epico em Doze Cantos
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, port f MIL72 P27P6 1884
Isaac Edward Salkinson, trans., Shir yesodato ba-katuv ṿa-yegaresh et ha-adam: neḥlaḳ le-sheneyim ʻaśar sefarim, yatsa le-ʼor be-śafat ʻEnglish be-shenat 1666, ṿe-niḳrʼa be-shem Paradise Lost
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-14 00674
A. Shul’govskaia, trans., Poteri͡annyĭ raĭ i vozrashchennyĭ raĭ
Saint Petersburg, 1896
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, F-10 01676
Masao Hirai, trans., Shitsurakuen
Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1981
U of T Scarborough Library, PR3561.J3 S4 1981
John Speed, A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, G-10 00236
Selected by Professor Su Fang Ng
When historian and mapmaker John Speed (1551/2–1629) first published his Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World in 1627, it was the first world atlas by an English cartographer. This edition also included Speed’s earlier and much more extensive Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain (1606), the first large-scale atlas of the British Isles, with detailed maps of the English and Welsh counties, the provinces of Ireland, and many towns, about fifty of which had never been mapped before. By the time the Prospect was published, Speed, like Milton, had lost his sight and would die two years later, buried in St. Giles, Cripplegate, which would also be Milton’s resting place. The 1662 edition of Speed’s Prospect was printed by Mary and Samuel Simmons, who would later print the first edition of Paradise Lost.
John Selden, Ioannis Seldeni Mare clausum, seu, De dominio maris libri duo
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, stc 00338
Selected by Professor Lorna Hutson
The antiquary, politician, and legal historian John Selden (1584–1654) was well known to Milton, who cited him in his commonplace book, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, De doctrina Christiana, and Areopagitica, where he famously calls Selden “the chief of learned men reputed in this land.” Selden’s Mare clausum (Latin for “closed sea”), first composed for King James but revised for publication under King Charles, drew on Scripture, history, and legal theory to argue that states could claim and exercise sovereignty over waters as well as land. Later translated into English, the Latin first edition of 1635 is a typographic tour de force: not only did the book include passages set in roman, italic, blackletter, Old English, Greek, and Hebrew type but it was the first English publication to print Arabic words with moveable type.
Timothy Dwight, The Conquest of Canäan; A Poem, in Eleven Books
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, B-11 00333
Selected by Professors Achsah Guibbory and David Quint
Born in colonial Massachusetts, the academic and minister Timothy Dwight (1752–1817) wrote his epic retelling of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan while a tutor at Yale, completing the poem in 1778 at the age of twenty-six. When it appeared in print in 1785, Dwight declared that The Conquest of Canäan was “the first of its kind, which has been published in this country” and dedicated the book to George Washington, the allegorical model for the poem’s Joshua. Throughout the poem, Dwight borrowed heavily from Paradise Lost as a literary precedent, although he departed from Milton’s epic by writing in rhyming couplets. In the Fisher’s copy of the first edition, at the beginning of Book III, an early reader has written in the margins: “I am sorry to find this sentiment here expressed.”